The Content Creation Process That Will Save You Time & Money (and 1 free tool that will make your life easier)

When you start a new site or blog, you tend to be filled with excitement and motivation considering the realm of possibilities opened before you. You make tons of plans and have a very optimistic vision of the future.

But as weeks go and you have to actually put a ton of work in order to achieve mediocre results (at first). It’s hard to stick to your plans and keep a clear vision of what has to be done in terms of content.

That’s why I shared the sitemap creation strategy and keyword research tactics with you earlier but this only covers planning.

When it comes to actually getting stuff done in content creation, you need a collaborative system that allows you to work as a team if you chose to outsource. All that while keeping a clear vision of where bottle necks are.

The rest of this post will be sharing the process I use to get content done, either outsourced or written by myself. Enjoy.

Why planning and organizing content is important

The fact that I’m preaching people to get organized must be pretty funny for my friends. Mostly because I’m a very disorganized person in the other parts of my life. But I’ve grown to appreciate the power of well oiled systems in internet marketing.

Here’s the most significant gains I observed when I switched from a non sequenced content creation system to a sequenced content creation system:

  1. Having your content scheduled keeps you accountable and prevents you from “slacking off”
  2. Having a schedule keeps your team organized and makes the bottle necks stand out.
  3. Because slow people and processes stand out, you identify them and can fix them faster.
  4. This system can be automated, scaled and allow to take yourself out of it.

The 10,000 feet view

1 – The roles

The roles defined here are the roles I use mostly because I work with a bunch of people. If you’re a one man band, you will automatically assume all these roles but the systems described bellow still apply.

In the system I use, there’s really only 3 roles:

The Admin

admin role concept

The admin is usually Mark or I. You’re responsible for giving a direction to the content team, uncovering content gaps and correct the process when needed.

I usually come up with content ideas and angles then pass it to the editor and review the content before it goes live.

The Editor

editor role concept

The editor is the buffer between the admin and the writers, they make sure the content is delivered on time and on specs.

They’re also the guardians of quality and ultimately responsible for maintaining your standards.

They can be the same person as the admin or someone else.

The Writer

writer role concept

These people are the people actually writing the content. They are working directly with the editor to receive their tasks and feedback.

They’re usually topic experts freelancers paid per article.

They don’t just write the content, they also promote it on their specialist social channels and reply to people’s comments on their articles.

2 – The process

Here is a rough outline of the mental process we go through when we publish any piece of content online. This process is often modified for the different needs we may have. For example if we need illustrations, we’ll add that step in the “in production” step.

Stage 1 – Idea

This stage relies entirely on the admin or editor. They basically set the direction for the piece. They have to come up with the following:

  • Content piece concept and angle
  • SEO Keywords
  • Timeline for production
  • The best writer to produce the piece
  • A proposed price for the production of the piece.

I describe how to come up with ideas and organize them in this post.

Stage 2 – Pending writer approval

At this stage, the writer receives the specs you’ve put together along with the proposed price for it. They can either accept the offer, refuse the offer or request changes in order to make it acceptable.

engage concept

A few things to watch out for at this stage are:

  • Making sure the writer understood the assignment
  • Making sure the payment modalities are understood

Stage 3 – In production

At that stage, the work is pending on the writer to complete. Once completed, the writer submits the article to the editor for review.

Writer Writing

This to watch out for at this stage:

  • Make sure the writer has everything he needs to complete the work.
  • Follow up on submission deadlines.

Stage 4 – Content review

Review Concept

At this stage, the admin or editor receive the content and do the following:

Check that the content is on spec

  • Check that the content is non plagiarized
  • Check for SEO
  • Push back for additional points / additional info

it’s very common for the content to go back and forth between this stage and stage 3 until it reaches a satisfactory level of quality. You will usually judge your writers on the number of iterations needed at that stage to reach the acceptable stage.

Stage 5 – Pending publication

After the content itself has been approved, it’s time to make it look good! If you’re still reading that post so far it’s probably because I spent a ton of time formatting it! Here are the tasks constituting this stage:

publication concept
  • Upload content on CMS.
  • Break down into readable chunks (usually 3-4 lines/paragraph max).
  • Create and add relevant graphics, videos, tables etc.
  • Schedule a publication date in the CMS

Stage 6 – Pending payment

Payment Concept

Because you will probably not pay your writers right after they submit each article they produce for you, you need to build a repository of what you owe them and define a payment frequency.

The tasks associated with that stage are fairly simple:

  • Add the article to the payment queue
  • Remove articles when paid

Choosing the right technical implementation

Now that we’ve broken down the conceptual model of what I think is a reasonably good content creation process, it’s time to look at how this can be implemented in real life.

I’ve literally tried hundreds of todos and work collaboration apps. They all have their pros and cons and to be honest, none of them really is made for content creation.

But since we need to pick one, here’s what I’m looking for in a system I use for content creation:

  1. It’s mostly task based, not discussion based. We want to get stuff done, not debate about it.
  2. You can create sub tasks. Each stage has a task list and you need to be able to tick tasks without moving the stage if you want to.
  3. It allows for a reasonable amount of communication and notifications. When you handle dozens of pieces at the same time, you want to be able to see what’s been updated and where your attention is needed.
trello logo

For all these reasons and because I’m cheap, I picked Trello as my default content creation management software. It’s 100% Free and I’ve prepared a little tutorial on how to use it with the system I’ve described earlier:

Closing thoughts

Creating content IS hard, but if you’re going to go through that painful endeavor, you might as well go all the way and rip the benefits of very high quality content as opposed to producing something mediocre.

Using a system such as the system described above will make the whole process a lot more manageable and most importantly drastically raise the quality of the content you may be producing.

Remember, the benefits of content creation grow exponentially with quality:

content roi

Do you have any comment or suggestion on this system? Then let me know in the comment section!

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